Over the last month, our upcoming columnists have been busy planning and writing to get ready for the launch of a new series of columns next week.
What better way to welcome our writers than through some Desert Island Picks? Get to know columnists Alannah and William through what they would take with them if they were marooned in the middle of nowhere.
From the 5th August, the Blue will be releasing four brand new columns over the course of the week. Keep an eye on The Oxford Blue Facebook page to see when they come out!
ALANNAH BURDESS: I’m A Female Classicist, Get Me Out Of Here!
Trinity College, Classics
What a hot mess. No not me (at least, not right this minute): my music library. The only way I can explain it is dad rock meets 2000’s pop meets R’n’B. One of my favourite bands is Santana (Smooth and Maria Maria are favourites) but I’m also a fan of Iron Maiden and AC/DC. I still haven’t forgiven my dad for not taking me to a Maiden concert because I was mid-GCSEs. On the other side of the spectrum is Harry Styles – don’t knock it till you try it. Frankly, if you can make sense of it, you’re doing a much better job than I am.
Given that the Classics degree at Oxford requires such a vast amount of reading texts in the original language, you’d think my favourite books would fit that description. But no. Joking aside, I do enjoy my course reading. I didn’t formally study Classics before university, so most of it is brand new for me and keeps me on my toes. Once I’m home though, I do like to curl up with a good novel. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is one of my all-time favourites because, whilst I cry like a baby at almost any film, this is still the only book to make me truly sob. The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry is just so well written that I can’t help but be drawn in – be warned though, there’s a slightly dodgy sex scene in a soggy wood (is that a deliberate innuendo? You tell me). Last but not least is Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach. Yes, you read that right. I’ve certainly picked up the very healthy and practical attitude the Irish have towards death. My whole life, I’ve battled between wanting to be a forensic pathologist or a criminal barrister (aged eight, I told my teacher I wanted to perform an autopsy). This book is truly hilarious at times (I’ll give you a hint: butt cheek dumplings).
I’ve never been a sporty human, but those who can’t do, watch. My favourite sport, and yes, it is a sport, is Formula 1. Most people who know me laugh when I fill them in on all the paddock gossip, or groan in misery while I giddily detail race strategy. In fact, I’m watching the Hungarian Grand Prix as I write this! Whilst F1 is my first love, I have a new paramour as of last year – rowing. The running joke in my house is that I’m the Men’s Co-Captain of my college boat club, despite the fact that I’m neither a man, nor a rower. Though I’d argue that as cox and an eldest child I have more than enough experience of being bossy!
A Luxury Item:
Tea. I drink an inordinate amount of tea; in fact, I regularly drink tea instead of water (which apparently isn’t good for you but hey, I’m still kicking). I did once give tea up for Lent and let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty. So, for the sake of any other inhabitants on the island, human or otherwise, I’ll be bringing some Barry’s tea (an Irish brand, but Yorkshire will do).
Come one, come all:
I’m a female classicist, get me out of here ties together details of my antics, lessons I’ve learned as a student (both the easy and the hard way), and my degree. I was recently asked why bother with the female bit, but if I’m honest, being a woman and studying Classics pretty much sum up my whole life at the moment. The two are often inseparable when it comes to how I look at the world, but by no means are my experiences restricted to female classicists alone! I can promise honest, no-holds-barred writing that might even be slightly funny in places (we live in eternal hope).
WILLIAM RIDD: For The Love Of God, Please Just…
Pembroke College, French and Spanish
I’m a sucker for self-reflective prose, so I’d have to take my ever-expanding collection of personal essays. I like to think that the voices of David Sedaris, Sloane Crosley and Dolly Alderton would keep me sane during those lonely nights.
Perhaps being separated from the rest of civilisation would finally allow me to shamelessly indulge my love of Glee? Or maybe I’ll be blasting out Roxy Music and Paramore in an attempt to impress the local wildlife…
Does Twitter count?
Probably a toss-up between Tennessee Williams; his theatrical style, with its subtle, understated explorations of loss, desire and longing, never fails to move me – and CATS because I will never not be entertained by tap dancing cockroaches.
And my column?
A young narcissist once said: “I don’t give a shit about anything, yet I simultaneously have opinions about everything.”
It was, of course, the character Hannah Horvath from HBO’s hit tv series GIRLS. Inspired by Lena Dunham’s semi-autobiographical protagonist, I have decided to write a column. “But what do you know about anything?”, I hear you ask. I won’t lie to you – not a lot. I have no political hot-takes, I lack a basic understanding of economics and, up until recently, I had no idea that Luxembourg was a country. What I do have, like everyone else on this planet, is opinions. If opinions really are like arseholes, then prepare yourself to get up close and personal with mine – the good, the bad and the inevitably ugly.
So join me each week as I express a badly-researched and terribly-worded opinion on a variety of subjects, ranging from the way we memorialise dead starlets to our society’s compulsive need to shit on popular culture. Maybe you’ll be inspired or maybe you’ll wish you’d just read a Vice article instead. Either way, I can promise you that I will be writing from my heart and talking out of my arse.
Illustrations by Ipsita Sarkar and Emily Perkins.
You can find these writers’ columns when they go live in the Columns section here.